WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Supreme Court voiced deep free speech
Tuesday about a law designed to stop the sale and marketing of
showing dog fights and other acts of animal cruelty.
justices heard an hour of lively debate about the scope and intent of the
decade-old statute that supporters say has done much to stop the spread of
profiting from the torture and abuse of animals.
But media groups and the
National Rifle Association were among those who say the law is overly broad.
"It's not up to the government to decide what are people's worst
instincts," said Justice Antonin Scalia. "One can contemplate a lot of other
areas, where government could say: You are appealing to people's worst
instincts, and, therefore, movies cannot be made" showing dramatized
depictions of animals being abused, for example.
"What about people who
like to see human sacrifices?" asked Justice Samuel Alito, somewhat
sarcastically. "Suppose that is legally taking place someplace in the world.
I mean, people here would probably love to see it. Live, pay-per-view, you
know, on the Human Sacrifice Channel. They have a point of view they want to
express. That's okay?" He seemed to indicate strongly it was not, and that
lawmakers would have discretion to block it.
The government had
argued a "compelling interest" in stopping people who would profit from dog
attack tapes and similar depictions.
The case is U.S. vs. Stevens
(08-769) and a ruling is expected in several months.